Josef Fritzl health: From dementia to needing a walking frame to move about

Incestuous rapist Josef Fritzl, 88, is moving to a regular prison from a prison psychiatric unit, as ordered by an Austrian court.

Fritzl, who had now changed his name to one that’s not been made public, raped his daughter, holding her captive for 24 years, and fathered her seven children.

He has been in a prison for “mentally abnormal” inmates since his conviction in 2009 for incest, rape, enslavement, coercion and the murder, by neglect, of his newborn son in a dungeon he secretly build under his house.

His lawyer Astrid Wagner has said Fritzl is suffering from advancing dementia. The type of dementia has not been revealed, only that it causes absent moments.

After the most recent court hearing in the town of Krems an der Donau near Vienna, a psychiatric assessment concluded he no longer posed a threat of re-offending.

Signs of dementia first reported in 2009

In 2009, a TV station and the Bild newspaper in Germany said: “He is indifferent to everything and showing classic signs of dementia.”

Classic signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulty concentrating, dinging it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, struggling to follow a conversation, being confused about time and place, and mood changes.

More recently, local reports claimed Fritzl appeared confused, regularly talks to the TV, believes he is a pop star, and discusses visits from family members that have never happened.

His daughter Elisabeth has not had any contact with her father since he was jailed and lives under a new name in an unknown part of Austria with the children.

Other health problems

In 2019, it was claimed Fritzl’s health was declining rapidly and that he lives apart from the rest of the prison population.

A fellow prisoner told local media: “Fritzl was and still is separated from everyone else. He has totally withdrawn himself and barely leaves his cell. He doesn’t want contact with others, and all together it looks as though he has resigned himself to dying.”

More recently, it’s been reported Fritzl has experienced multiple falls and now needs a walker to move around.

Fritzl’s lawyer revealed he was seeking to be transferred from prison to a nursing home due to his deteriorating health on January 17th this year.

Wagner told CNN at the time “expert opinion suggests that his illness has reached a point where the likelihood of committing serious offences with significant consequences has diminished,” citing his recent psychiatric assessment. 

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